04/16/04 — Spring Creek, Princeton struggles with basics at Deacon Jones tournament

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Spring Creek, Princeton struggles with basics at Deacon Jones tournament

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on April 16, 2004 1:55 PM

PRINCETON -- Princeton coach Bruce Proctor and Spring Creek coach Roger May shared similar frustrations after their respective games on the second day of the Deacon Jones Invitational at Princeton High on Thursday.

Each saw their teams commit a handful of errors -- leading to unearned runs -- and lose to teams who outplayed them in the fundamental aspects of the game.

In a game featuring Wednesday's winners, the Gators (9-8) managed just two hits against Middle Creek, who claimed a 13-3 win in the final game of the evening. Right-handers Grant Ringenberg and Devo McKernie combined to toss a two-hitter for the Mustangs (8-4), while a handful of teammates had stout efforts at the plate.

North Johnston (7-6) defeated the Bulldogs 9-3 in the afternoon game, paced by a consistent complete-game effort from junior righty Ashley Moore. The Panthers played errorless defense behind Moore and drove in four runs total with two outs.

"We loaded up the bases twice last night, and we didn't scratch any runs off of it," North Johnston coach Tim Jones said. "It was big for us to put the ball in play with two outs, but the biggest thing for us was playing good defense."

Middle Creek is the only 2-0 team entering the round-robin tournament's final day on Friday and will face the Panthers, currently at 1-1 in the tourney, at 4 p.m. Princeton battles Spring Creek in the 7 p.m. game as both teams hope to rebound and gain momentum heading into the second half of the regular season.

"This team can play, but you've got to do it everyday. Hopefully we will come out here tomorrow fired up and ready to play," Spring Creek coach Roger May said. "Going into next week, hopefully we will turn it around."

Princeton (10-5) dropped to 0-2 in the tournament.

Middle Creek picked up momentum early in Thursday's game with its pitching and defense.

Mustang catcher Matt Watkins cut down a runner trying to steal second in the first and second innings, while first baseman Jeremy Keene backed Ringenberg with an unassited double play in the second. Graham Chapman, Bobby Fowler and Nick Morrison -- Middle Creek's one, two and three hitters -- each had two hits and combined to score eight of their team's 13 runs.

Chapman's lead-off home run in the fifth started an explosive finish to the game as the Mustangs pulled away with nine runs in the final three innings.

"That was one of the first things we were concentrating on coming down here is sitting on that first good strike and putting a bat on it," Middle Creek coach Mike Matthews said. "It's all fundamentals -- get runners on, move them around and knock them in."

Spring Creek's Daniel Thompson smacked a double in the left-center field gap in the bottom of the sixth for the Gators' second hit of the game. Derek Kirby and Jed Potter scored on the play, while Thompson came around to score off of an infield error to make the score 9-3.

The Mustangs tacked on four more runs in the top of the seventh before the Gators went down scoreless in the bottom of the inning.

Each of Spring Creek's four errors led to runs.

North Johnston 9, Princeton 3

North Johnston's Moore, who finished with 10 strikeouts against one walk, got off to a strong start with three perfect innings before Princeton's Patrick Gatewood smacked a double down the right field line to lead off the fourth.

The Bulldogs seemed to gain momentum at the plate through the middle to late stages as they pieced together three runs and seven hits in the final four innings. Daniel Gerrell drove in Dustin Myers, who doubled, in the bottom of the sixth with two outs to plate Princeton's final run.

Princeton's defense let down consistently through the game, as six errors led to four unearned runs for the Panthers. "I thought the final number on the board (errors) were the story in the ball game," Princeton coach Bruce Proctor said. "That's usually not us. We did a lot of the little things wrong today."

Conversely, North Johnston turned in a near-perfect defensive performance behind Moore, who mixed his fastball and hard curve ball effectively.

"He's a quality pitcher, and we didn't look that good," Proctor said. "But then again, he looked good. You got to give credit to North Johnston."

The Panthers displayed the ability to score in spurts, posting four runs on four hits in the second, capped by Adam Stuckey's two-RBI double. After Josh Thompson tossed two innings of shutout relief, North Johnston scratched back for three more runs, aided by a Princeton error and wild pitch. The Panthers' runs in the sixth and seventh innings were unearned.

Third annual Deacon Jones Invitational Tournament

(at Princeton HS)

Game three

N. Johnston 040 031 1 -- 9 9 0

Princeton 000 111 0 -- 3 7 6

Leading hitters -- N. Johnston -- Adam Verrill 2-4, 2 runs; Ashley Moore 1-3, 2 RBI; Michael Corbett 2-3, RBI; Adam Stuckey 1-3, 2 RBI. Princeton -- Patrick Gatewood 2-4, 2B, RBI; Dustin Myers 1-4, 3B; Bren Hall 1-2, 2B; Daniel Gerrell 1-3, RBI.


N. Johnston

Moore (W) 7 7 3 3 1 10


Myers (L) 2 4 4 3 1 2

Thompson 5 5 5 2 4 5

WP -- Thompson 2, Moore.

Game four

Middle Creek 102 033 4 -- 13 11 4

Spring Creek 000 0003 0 -- 3 2 4

Leading hitters -- Middle Creek -- Graham Chapman 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 runs; Bobby Fowler 2-2, 4 runs; Nick Morrison 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Tyler Wood 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI. Spring Creek -- Daniel Thompson 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Michael Sigmon 1-3.


Middle Creek

Ringenberg (W) 5 2 3 1 4 5

McKernie 2 0 0 0 1 1

Spring Creek

Amos (L) 5 6 9 6 5 4

Thompson 1 1 1 0 2 0

Snyder 1 4 3 3 0 1

WP -- Amos, McKernie. HP - Carrell.